The very bearable lightness of being

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How fast a year goes by.

I’m back in Singapore for the annual TFWA Asia Pacific show. This time last year I was awaiting the results of some preliminary medical tests, which I’d done on the eve of the show. I didn’t feel or look well, but with a fair bit of optimism and naivety I presumed there was nothing seriously wrong that a little slowing down of lifestyle wouldn’t fix.

From this show I flew on to Australia to view the spectacular retail offer at Sydney Airport’s revamped International Terminal, and then on to Auckland to view the New Zealand gateway’s burgeoning commercial offer. It was typical of my business life at the time, with roughly half of my time spent travelling.

Within hours of returning from that long and grueling trip I was having a blood transfusion in a London hospital. Three weeks later I would be diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer that in ensuing months would result in two rounds of chemotherapy punctuated by a full gastrectomy (stomach removal). The months since last year’s show have been, by some margin, the worst of my life.

So it’s with great relief (for that, indeed, is the prevailing emotion) that I find myself back at one of my favourite events, and in one of my favourite cities.

 I feel well, in fact I feel great. But if any readers at the show don’t recognize me it’s because I have lost a couple of stone since last May and it’s proving difficult to put back on. Hopefully a week of exquisite Singaporean food might help do the trick.

 I only made the final decision to travel late last week, having convinced myself that I was in good enough shape to make the journey (readers of this Blog will know that my trip to Bangkok for The Trinity Forum in February proved a comeback too soon).

I can’t wait to see many old friends during the week. The support I have had from so many people in this industry has helped sustain me during the darkness of the past 12 months. Now, as I look out over Singapore from my 16th floor room at the Marina Mandarin, and as I look forward to the week, all I can see is lightness.


  • Hello Martin,

    It’s great to see you “back where you belong,” in the heat of the action! Stay well, take good care of yourself and know that many silent – and not so silent – supporters are constantly cheering for you!
    Best wishes,

  • Hi Martin,

    Great to see you back in action! I saw your photo in the main page and barely recognised you, but I am happy and thankful to the Almighty that you have fought a winning battle and are back at the world’s most respected DF Trade show! Look forward to more of your writings, take good care of yourself and yes, enjoy some exquisite, yummy singaporean food. Cheers.


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